The time has finally come! After numerous delays and then the publisher announcing that they're just not going to talk about it anymore until it's ready, Conan Chop Chop is finally in our hands. Ever since that April Fool's trailer back in 2019, fans have been clambering to play a Conan game like never before, a topdown co-op roguelite dungeon-crawling action adventure (phew, that was a mouthful)! With an emphasis on co-op and nonstop combat, we now get to see whether Conan Chop Chop was worth the wait.
There's such a wide variety of manoeuvres and items to play around with here that you can go into any run in so many different ways. There are four characters to choose from, each with their own unique skills, stats and feels to them. There are also wide variety of equipment and weapons to unlock, so much so that Conan Chop Chop gives plenty of freedom to the player from the very beginning.
Each fighter is designed to be slightly different so as to appeal to every playstyle. Conan is your typical barbarian with a rage ability which allows you to go in guns-blazing for a short time; Belit is an agile fighter who prioritises ranged weapons, quick strikes and dodge rolls; Pallantides is reminiscent of a Spartan soldier who's ideal in close melee combat and has a devastating shield bash dash, however he does lacks in ranged combat, leaving him more vulnerable; and then lastly, we have Valeria who favours swords. Each character has their own unique dash. For example, Conan's dash is called the Angry Leap which allows him to leap forward and slam his weapon into the ground, stunning and damaging enemies within its radius, whereas Belit dives forward and shoots an arrow in the opposite direction to hit enemies she's dashing away from.
In addition, each character has their own rage Ultimate ability which is charged up during combat in the top-left corner of the screen. Pallantides's Ultimate attack is called Roar of the Dragon and emits an enormous shockwave to stun and damage nearby enemies, whereas Valeria's Ultimate attack, Tornado Slash, transforms her into a tornado, spinning her weapon around her and dealing damage to any and all enemies she comes into contact with.
To fight, you have your standard melee and ranged attacks, with the latter being restricted by ammo which recharges over time and during combat. You can drop bombs to damage enemies as well but these are primarily used to destroy rocks in order to reach chests. Before each run and after each level, you'll go back to the main hubworld where you can use your gems you've collected to unlock new equipment and charms. In addition, you can use your gold to purchase new gear that you have previously unlocked, but you're limited to what is randomly available to you at that time. You can also use the experience points you obtain to unlock new abilities for each fighter, providing progression for your hard work.
Overall, Conan Chop Chop puts a lot of emphasis on co-0p play. The game can be played with up to four players locally or online and is certainly ideal for those who may need some help in combat. The balance is well structured; everyone holds onto their own gold but when it's collected, each player receives the full amount. The same however cannot be said for keys and hearts as they only belong to or heal the player who picks it up. Once you defeat all enemies within the room, each player is revived with low hearts and throughout boss fights, players can be revived twice - once for the end of each part of the fight. Game Over only occurs when all four players die, making the game easier with the more people playing.
The game's humour is satirically tongue-in-cheek and it knows not to take itself too seriously. The opening cutscene prior to the main menu demonstrates this immediately with the villain Thoth Amon only summoning half of Xaltotun's body, therefore throwing "Thoth Amon's Wrath-A-Thon" to lure a vessel. This brand of humour continues to be sprinkled throughout the game, with a personal favourite of mine being that one run's cause of death was "refused to pick up health".
- Player freedom
- Four unique characters
- Co-op friendly
- Satirically tongue-in-cheek humour
The combat itself is fine but it does feel quite rudimentary in that it's not quite as impactful as you would want it to be. With Conan Chop Chop being so action-focussed, its lack of rumble is quite the misstep as attacks just don't have that force you would want or expect from the big hulking barbarian, despite how twiggy this iteration's limbs are.
There are odd moments where the depth perception feels just a little bit off. Parrying is a key component to combat as it will not only block an enemy's attack but it will also stop their chain of attacks and temporarily stun them; there were many moments where the timing was perfect and the enemy connects with the fighter but no parry occurs. This can be the same with occasional attacks, leading me to believe that the hit-box detection isn't as accurate as it should be.
While Conan Chop Chop's story and general tone is light-hearted and good for a laugh or two, it doesn't really go much further than that. The NPCs are few and far between and their dialogue rarely captured my attention enough to continue reading past the first sentence. I don't think players would go into Conan Chop Chop expecting anything complex and the main draw is the co-op roguelite action but when it's all said and done, you won't look back on its plot with much fond nostalgia.
Now this is certainly a strange aspect to list but the key distribution in this game is incredibly imbalanced. I had some runs where I couldn't unlock many chests because I didn't have any keys and then in a separate run, I had, no exaggeration, 20 spare keys! How does that imbalance even happen?
- Combat lacking impact
- Wonky hit-box detection
- Unmemorable story
- Imbalanced key distribution
Final Score: 7/10
Ever since I first bought my Switch, I've grown a love for the roguelite genre, especially from indie developers. They're often underappreciated but there have been some masterpieces these past few years, with titles like Hades and Dead Cells. Conan Chop Chop certainly does not fall into that masterpiece category but strangely enough, it doesn't need to. It doesn't tell a complex story and its characters don't have much depth to them, but what it does have is fun, addictive gameplay which provides that patented "just one more run" feeling.
Thank you for checking out our Conan Chop Chop Switch review, thank you to Funcom (via JP Media PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: